We imagine that you’d like to know a little bit about BB’s. Who we are, what we do, and a brief history of the building which houses BB’s.
The 700 South Broadway building which houses BB’s was known as Phil’s Hotel as late as 1969 and has a very colorful past. Since its original construction in the mid 1800’s, in an area then known as “Frenchtown” with a further 3 story addition at the turn of the century, the location has been used as a home, boarding house, reception hall, mercantile, milli-nery, transient hotel, bar, diner, and a house of ill repute with 37 rooms between the 2nd and 3rd floors.
BB’s, the St. Louis Jazz & Blues Nightclub was originally started in 1976 by Bob Burkhardt and Mark O’Shaughnessy. This first incarnation ran well into 1977. Typical Burkardtian woodworks, funky antiques, wood burning stove and art posters punctuated the busy eclectic atmosphere. In music, Blues, Jazz and Rhythm & Blues ruled. But alas, the first BB’s drew to a close a little over a year and a half from when it started.
A new business structure was created from 1980-’81 for BB’s second incarnation. BB’s reopened and once again became a vital force in the St. Louis music scene, this time bringing Jazz artists like Earl Hines, Betty Carter, James Moody and Eddie Harris to the St. Louis marketplace as well as returning Blues favorites like Henry Townsend, Roosevelt Sykes, Yank Rachell & Sunnyland Slim to its stage.
Once again the popularity of the Blues was still far from what it is today and BB’s took a hiatus as a keeper of the alternative music flame. Fifteen years would intervene.
On June 15, 1996, BB’s Jazz, Blues & Soups Inc. reopened for the third time as a Jazz & Blues Nightclub and Restaurant. BB’s was able to seat about 150 people. In 2006 construction began to develop the 2nd floor for further gallery seating overlooking the stage for dining (essentially doubling the previous capacity) and the addition of a New Orleans style balcony and garden patio on the North side of the building provides outdoor patio seating (in season) with a view of significant St. Louis landmarks. There are plans in the works for the addition of a music walk of fame (St. Louis Music Milestones) of inlaid sidewalk plaques with historical legends for the building’s outdoor perimeter so that we may honor those musicians who have lent their names to St. Louis’ Music History and Fame.
We’re a new company that has been around for a long time. We’re brimming with enthusiasm. We’re stoked about our staff, our City’s music and culture, the food, the drinks, the artwork, the memorabilia, and the whole overall operation. We hope that you’ll like BB’s too, even if you’re here for the third time…